By Nelson A. King
The Vincentian-born pioneer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Belize’s Penn Relays initiative, James Cordice, has urged graduates at the Ecumenical High School in Stan Creek, Belize to “dream extraordinarily to achieve greatness.”
In addressing the school’s recent Commencement ceremony, on the theme, “Dream Extraordinarily to Achieve Greatness,” the Philadelphia-based Cordice urged the graduates to continue reaching for the stars.
“You have dreamt of greatness, and you have achieved! You are done! Are you? But wait, there’s college; you must think of college; you must seek higher education,” he said in his remarks made available to Caribbean Life.
“The difference in wages between the college-educated and the non-college educated or high school graduate is like night and day,” he added. “It differs by thousands [of dollars].
“So, think about college,” continued Cordice, who was instrumental in having Ecumenical High School participate in the Penn Relays, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, in April for the very first time. It was the first school in Belize to compete in the illustrious games.
“And while you are thinking, I’d like to encourage you to focus hard,” he said. “If you want to continue down the straight path of academics, do it hard. If you want to use sports as an academic vehicle, then do that hard as well. Compete hard and keep a balance with academics.”
Cordice told the graduates that they were “all achievers,” pointing out that there was nothing they “cannot do.”
“Don’t allow anyone to belittle your dreams, because it can be infinite,” he urged. “Have big dreams. If your dreams do not scare you, maybe they aren’t big enough.
“So, go on, take this world and change it positively,” Cordice advised. “Work your minds, work your hands, live your dreams. But, while you do that, never forget your parents, your elders; never forget your teachers.
“Live your best lives, do your best deeds, make the most positive moves,” he added. “Never think that you are insignificant; you are the best! You are the best in Dangriga [district in Belize]. You are the best in Belize. You can be the best in this world. Live your life fruitfully.”
Lauded for his Penn Relays efforts, Cordice said he was invited by the school to give the 44th Commencement address, which was widely received.
While in Belize, he said he visited a number of places of interest, including those involving the Garifunas, natives of the ancestors of the Black Caribs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who were forced into exile in Roatan, a small island off Honduras.
They were then dispersed to the Central American countries of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.
Over 200, 000 Garifunas are said to be living in the United States, primarily in the Bronx, Brownsville, Brooklyn and in California.
In Belize, Cordice said he visited a cassava factory in Dangriga; toured the Garifuna Museum, where he was re-aquainted with drummer and scholar Jushua Arana; and visited the Gulesi Elementary School, “Belize’s only Garifuna institution.”
At Gulesi, Cordice said he met with the principal and teaching staff, delivered presents from the Philadelphia-based Team SVG International Support, Inc., which he spearheads, and “discussed some future ventures with the school.”
In addition, Cordice said he held discussions with the faculty and staff at Ecumenical High School on future Penn Relays effort, and met with local Belize elected officials, including Dangriga’s Mayor Francis Humphreys and Belize’s Minister of State, Labor, Rural Development, Energy, Public Utility and Local Government, Frank Mena.
Cordice said he had met Mena, for the first time, last August on a Garifuna pilgrimage in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.